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1 John 2:15-17 - Worldliness

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Soon after becoming a Christian, a person discovers that living the Christian life is not a bed of roses.

Actually it is quite a battle, with a real struggle against three foes:

1.       An external enemy: the world

2.       An internal enemy: the flesh

3.       An infernal (hellish) enemy: the Devil

John warns us that we are not to love the world: if we love the world the love of the Father is not in us.

It is impossible for you to love two exact opposites at the same time.


Jesus put it like this:

"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24 NKJV)

Worldliness keeps us from having:

1.       The power of God

2.       Spiritual effectiveness

3.       A good witness for the Lord

Saying there is a such thing as being a “worldly Christian” makes no more sense than saying there is a “heavenly Devil”.

·         If I see a bird that looks like a duck & quacks like a duck & waddles like a duck & eats like a duck, then I get the idea that the bird I say is probably a duck.

·         If I see a person who live like the world, acts like the world, loves the world & is part of the world then he must not be a Christian.

The Meaning of the World

What it is Not

1.       He does not mean the world of physical nature – flowers, trees, mountains & sees.

“The heavens declare the glory of God”

a.       There is still beauty in this fallen creation, enough to take away the breath of those who see it!

b.       When you come to know Jesus & you see this world through converted eyes, you appreciate it more!

c.        It all points to our God who made it for us to enjoy.

Acts 17:24 says, "God… made the world and everything in it”


Scripture says that God “gives us richly all things to enjoy”

2.       He does not mean the world of lost Humanity

a.       John 3:16 cf. 1 John 4:9-10

b.       We ought to love the world of lost sinners as God does – (Romans 5:8 cf. 2Cor.5:21)

c.        Because of this love we ought to love Him (1 John 4:19 cf. 2Cor.5:14)

What it is

1.       The Meaning of “world”

a.       kosmos – from which we get “cosmopolitan” & “cosmic”; “to order,” “to arrange,” or “to put in the proper condition.”  

b.       Often times we talk about:

1)       The world of sports

2)       The world of politics

3)       The world of music

c.        Do not love the world is to not love “the arrangement of things or a system that is opposed to God.”

2.       The World System that is Opposed to God

a)       This world:

1)       has a temporary ruler (2Cor.4:4) the devil

a)       He is called the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31)

b)       The whole world “lies under his power”,  “the wicked one” (1John 5:19)

c)       The wicked one has an organization of evil spirits (Eph.6:11-12)

d)       Unsaved people are energized by the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph.2:1-2)

2)       has its children – Sons of this world (Luke 16:8)

3)       has its spirit – The “spirit of this world” & the “wisdom of this world” (2Cor.2:6,12)

4)       is corrupt through its lust seeking to hinder the children of God from being what they should (2 Peter 1:4)

5)       put Christ on the cross

6)       is not a friend of God but an enemy (Romans 5:10, 1)

b)       The believer is somewhat like a scuba – diver.

1)       The scuba – diver needs special equipment to go under water to breath

2)       The Christian needs the Holy Spirit & the Spiritual resources, Prayer, the Word, & fellowship.

3.       What is worldliness?

a.       Is an attitude of the heart – Remember lots wife!

b.       Anything that keeps you from loving God as you ought to love Him

c.        Anything that comes between you & God & keeps you from living the Christian life to its fullest.

4.       What is Meant by “Things in the World”? (v.15)

a.       Romans 1:24-25 people forsake the worship of God & study of His Word in order to be out in nature.

(cp. fishing, golfing, hiking, camping, and other forms of recreation out in nature).

The Methods of the World

How does the world operate?  What are the methods the world uses to try to get us to be like it?

Separation from the World

1.       Paul reminds us that we have nothing in common with the world (2Cor.6: 14).

a.       Does this mean that we are to stop all contact with unbelievers?  No!

1)       1Cor.5:9-13

2)       Romans 10:14

b.       We must have a different attitude toward this world & not compromise our standards to fit its customs.

c.        However, our attitude toward this world cannot be condescending or we adopt a prideful outlook

2.       Jesus prayed that God would give us the right attitude & proper relationship to the world. 

John 17 – the Father & the Son know that we have to live in this world, but they want us to be distinct from the habits & attitudes that characterize the world.

a.       You do not belong to this world system anymore (v.6 cf. Gal.1:4)

b.       Being saved does not take us out of this world system physically (v.11)

c.        We are still here & yet we really do not belong here (v.14)

d.       We are to confront the world with the claims of Jesus Christ (v.18)

3.       Living a Separated Life is not Easy (2Tim 3:12).

The Purpose of the World

This world wants to take the love that you have for God in your heart & replace it with love for this world.

                No Christian becomes worldly all of a sudden.

                Worldliness creeps up on a believer, it is a gradual process.       

1.       Friendship of the WorldYou don’t want to be a “fuddy – duddy” right?

a.       Spiritual Adultery (James 4:4)

After being friendly with the world you get…

2.       Spotted by the World (James 1:27)

a.       Hearing dirty jokes, filthy language etc.

b.       At night you not only need a physical bath but a mental & spiritual bath

To often our friendship with the world leads to love, as a result the believer becomes:

3.       Conformed to the World (Romans 12:2).

a.       “Squeeze you into its mold”

b.       This world wants you to think, act, do as it does, go where it goes, & have the same standard it has.

c.        Proposition 22

Being conformed to the world can lead a Christian into being:

4.       Condemned with the World (1Cor.11:32)

a.       If a believer confesses & judges this sin, God will forgive him;

b.       But if he does not confess, God will lovingly chasten him

The Downward Steps & Consequences of Lot (Gen. 13:5-13; 14:8-14; 19)

1)       Lot looked toward Sodom

2)       Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom

3)       Then he moved into Sodom

a)       Lot was a believer (2Pet. 2:6-8) but he had to suffer with the unbelieving sinners of the wicked city

b)       When God destroyed Sodom, everything that Lot lived for went up in smoke!


Examples of Being Worldly

#1 – It starts by “following Christ at a distance” (Luke 22:54-55 cf. Psalm 1:1-3)

#2 – Demas loved this present world (2Tim.4: 10 cf. Matt.13).

#3 – Herods lavish party (Mark 6:14-29)

#4 – Pilate (Mark 15:15)

The Pressure of the World (1John 2:16)

Three devices to trap Christians 1John 2:16

This happened to Eve back in the Garden (Genesis 3:6)

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [the lust of the flesh], that it was pleasant to the eyes [the lust of the eyes], and a tree desirable to make one wise [the pride of life], she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6 NKJV)

1.       The “lust of the flesh”

Lust – means “desires, the cravings, the longings of the body.”

Thought the body itself is not sinful, we have a fallen nature that makes an improper appeal to the natural desires of our body.

The world wants us to try to satisfy those normal desires in abnormal ways.

There are two times when the desires of the flesh are wrong:

#1 – when the flesh desires something that is directly forbidden by God.

#2 –  when the flesh desires & desires, consumes & consumes, then it becomes indulgence

WHAT ARE THE SINS OF THE FLESH?  Galatians 5:19-21

Adultery: sexual unfaithfulness to husband or wife. It is also looking on a woman or a man to lust after her or him. Looking at and lusting after the opposite sex whether in person, magazines, books, on beaches or anywhere else is adultery. Imagining and lusting within the heart is the very same as committing the act.

Fornication: a broad word including all forms of immoral and sexual acts. It is pre-marital sex and adultery; it is abnormal sex, all kinds of sexual vice.

Uncleanness: moral impurity; doing things that dirty, pollute, and soil life.

Licentiousness: filthiness, indecency, shamelessness. A chief characteristic of the behavior is open and shameless indecency. It means unrestrained evil thoughts and behavior.

Idolatry: the worship of idols, whether mental or made by man’s hands; the worship of some idea of what God is like, of an image of God within a person’s mind; the giving of one’s primary devotion (time and energy) to something other than God.

Witchcraft: sorcery; the use of drugs or of evil spirits to gain control over the lives of others or over one’s own life. In the present context it would include all forms of seeking the control of one’s fate including astrology, palm reading, seances, fortune telling, crystals, and other forms of witchcraft.

Hatred (echthrai): enmity, hostility, animosity. It is the hatred that lingers and is held for a long time; a hatred that is deep within.

Contentions; Variance (ereis): strife, discord, contention, fighting, struggling, quarreling, dissension, wrangling. It means that a man strives against another person in order to get something: position, promotion, property, honor, recognition. He deceives, doing whatever has to be done to get what he is after.

Jealousies; Emulations (zeloi): wanting and desiring to have what someone else has. It may be material things, recognition, honor, or position.

Wrath (thumoi): indignation; a violent, explosive temper; anger; quick and explosive reactions that arise from stirred and boiling emotions. But it is anger which fades away just as quickly as it arose. It is not anger that lasts.

Selfish Ambitions; Strife (eritheiai): conflict, struggle, fight, contention, faction, dissension; a party spirit, a cliquish spirit.

Dissentions; Seditions (dichostasiai): division, rebellion, standing against others, splitting off from others.

Heresies (aireseis): rejecting the fundamental beliefs of God, Christ, the Scriptures, and the church; believing and holding to some teaching other than the truth.

Envyings (phthonoi): this word goes beyond jealousy. It is the spirit...

a.       that wants not only the things that another person has, but begrudges the fact that the person has them.

b.       that wants a person to lose the things he has, and wants him to suffer through the loss of them.


Murders (phonoi): to kill, to take the life of another person. Murder is sin against the sixth commandment.

Drunkenness (methai): taking drink or drugs to affect one’s senses for lust or pleasure; becoming tipsy or intoxicated; partaking of drugs; seeking to loosen moral restraint for bodily pleasure.

Revellings (komoi): carousing; uncontrolled license, indulgence, and pleasure; taking part in wild parties or in drinking parties; lying around indulging in feeding the lusts of the flesh.

“Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1 NKJV)

2.       The “lust of the eyes”

a.       Sometimes our eyes can have an appetite “Feast your eyes on this”

Pleasures that gratify the sight & the mind.           

Watch what you put into your mind through your eyes

1)       Television, movies, etc. 

2)       Psalm 101:3; 119:37

b.       Achan (Joshua 7:21)

1)       God said to destroy Jericho & not let a thing survive.

2)       Achan saw a Babylonian garment, shekels of silver, & a wedge of gold.

3)       He coveted them in his heart & took them. 

What are the sins of the eyes?

1.       There is the lust of the eyes for:

a.       Sex (Matt.5:28; Rom.1:26-28; Job 31:1)

b.       after all kinds of evil (Matt. 6:23)

c.        after the things of other people (Ps.10:8)

d.       after all the pleasures and possessions of the world (Eccl.2:10)

e.        after wine, drugs, and alcoholic drinks (Prov.23:29-31)

f.        after other gods (Lev.26:1)

"Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." (Luke 12:15 NKJV)

3.       The “pride of life”

#1 – Pride means “empty display of life”

Vain boasting of one’s lifestyle, living in such a way as to impress other people.

Living a fancy lifestyle so people will think you are something.

a.       People buy things whether they can afford to pay for them or not.

b.       “Buy now” “ pay later”

c.        This lead to financial messes.

#2 – Pride means means self-sufficiency, a person who is focused upon himself and feels completely capable of handling life himself.


a.       This person feels little if any need for God

The Mastery of the World

The Passing Nature of the World

1.       Matthew 24:35

2.       2Peter 3:10

The Perspective We Must Have

1.       A Citizen of Heaven

a.       Hebrews 11:3 says that the heroes of faith “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

We too are strangers & pilgrims on this earth, but we don’t realize that enough.

We have become locked into loving the things of this world.

b.       Hebrews 11:10 says the people of faith “looked for a city… whose builder and maker is God.”

c.        Philippians 3:20 Paul said this to the Philippians: “Our citizenship is in heaven.”

d.       Jesus tells us we don’t belong in the world.  It hates us. 

We are not of the world; we have no part in it (John 15:18-19).

2.       A Soldier of God (2Tim. 2:3-4)

a.       You cannot be in the army & a civilian at the same time.

3.       Present Your Body As A Living Sacrifice (Romans 12:1)

4.       Set Your Affection On Things Above (Colossians 3:2)

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